Category Archives: Field reports

Out and About

 

 

Have you ever visited the Loddon Falls Reserve near Glenlyon, the scenery is magnificent and the Manna Gums are huge?

 

 

Another place to visit is the Spargo Creek Mineral Springs off the Daylesford Road. On a visit at Christmas time we noticed twining fringe-lily and podolepis, which we hadn’t noticed there before. Take some bottles as the mineral water is very pleasant.

 

There has been plenty to see out and about lately. On our Facebook page we reported on the sighting of Dianella amoena, Matted Flax-lily at Victoria Park Ballarat, a plants listed as endangered. We have added a link for blog subscribers, on the right hand side of the page about halfway down, if you want to see the latest on our Facebook page.

Dianella amoena

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Among the Enfield Flowers

Over 30 people gathered at Little Hard Hills Hotel, Enfield on Sunday 4 November 2018. Our numbers were swelled by members of the Geelong Field Naturalists Club and visitors who had attended the Stella Bedggood Memorial Lecture on Friday night.

We entered Enfield State Park at Misery Creek Road and traveled to Surface Point picnic area. The walking track passed through an area where the topsoil had been removed during the gold mining period leaving the clay subsoil.

Surface Hill Diggings

Surface Hill Diggings

Broad-leaved Peppermint Eucalyptus dives, Brown Stringybark E. baxteri and Candlebark E. rubida provided the overstorey. Small plants growing here included Slender Speedwell Veronica gracilis, Trailing Goodenia Goodenia lanata, St John’s Wort Hypericum gramineum, Common Rice-flower Pimelea humilis, Grey Parrot-pea Dillwynia cinerascens and Small Rustyhood Pterostylis pusilla. Three short, thick, asparagus-like stems of a Hyacinth Orchid had forced their way through the hard soil making an early start to their summer growing period. Wattles found in the area were Snake Wattle Acacia aculeatissima with developing seed pods, Prickly Moses A. verticillata subsp. ovoidea, Hedge Wattle A. paradoxa and Blackwood A. melanoxylon.

memorial to Chinese miners

memorial to Chinese miners

Beside the dry creek, taller trees of Manna Gum Eucalyptus viminalis, Messmate E. obliqua and Scentbark E. aromaphloia grew, many with hollows. A pair of Striated Pardalotes Pardalotus striatus was observed flying in and out of one small hollow in a Manna Gum, and an Eastern Yellow Robin closely observed the group. Interesting plants in flower were Yam Daisy Microseris walteri, Rough Bedstraw, Galium gaudichaudii, Common Bird-orchid Chiloglottis valida and Austral Indigo Indigofera australis. A new species for the already extensive plant list for Enfield State Park was found budding along the track north of the creek: Austral Bugle Ajuga australis.

By lunch-time, the cloud cover had broken up and we sought shade to enjoy our lunch. Blue Bottle-daisy Lagenophora stipitata was flowering amongst the grass.

After lunch we travelled up Misery Creek Road to Mt Misery Garden. This was declared a reserve area in 1964 in the then state forest following FNCB lobbying led by Stella Bedggood. Many different species were growing along the ridge, including Stella’s namesake, the flowering Enfield Grevillea Grevillea bedggoodiana. Also flowering were Twining Fringe-lily Thysanotus patersonii, Ivy-leaf Violet Viola hederacea, Wattle Mat-rush Lomandra filiformis, Common Trigger-plant Stylidium armeria, Button Everlasting Coronidium scorpioides, Common Apple-berry Billardiera mutabilis, Purple Beard-orchid Calochilus robertsonii and Musky Caladenia Caladenia moschata flowering close to the road. Sully’s keen eyes picked-out Tiger Orchids Diuris sulphurea amongst the peas and Poa tussocks. Two species of Leek Orchid Prasophyllum sp were found but identifying the genus was difficult. Both seem likely to be part of the P. odoratum group given their strong scents. Colourful patches of yellow and orange/ red–flowered Matted Bush-pea Pultenaea pedunculata spread in clumps.

Grevillea bedggoodiana Enfiied Grevillea

Grevillea bedggoodiana Enfiied Grevillea

The final stop for the day was at Beacon (Bald) Hill. We drove to the top of the hill, accessible since the navigation beacon was removed. The area is still slashed regularly, maintaining the hill as an open patch suitable for many small species. Many species of lily, pea, heath, orchid and daisy colourfully covered the hillsides and 100’s of iridescent copper-coloured, blue or green beetles covered the Eucalypt saplings. Field Nats were quickly spread down the slope and were soon on hands and knees examining the finer details of flowers. Species drawing the most attention were the prolific sun-orchids and beard orchids. Rush-leaf Sun-orchid Thelymitra juncifolia and Great Sun-orchid Thelymitra aristata were readily identified but others were more difficult and suspected to be hybrids. The most striking one was a crimson-pink, spotted sun-orchid with thick yellow column tufts spotted by Claire. The same sharp pair of eyes spotted Pale Grass-lily Caesia parvifolia. A low-growing plant that was spread across the site was Dwarf Boronia Boronia nana var. nana with compound leaves of three to five leaflets. Earlier in the day Boronia nana var. hyssopifolia with simple narrow leaves had been seen. Quite a few purple-flowered Heath Milkworts Comesperma ericinum were found, and growing amongst them was the rare find (for Enfield State Park) of a Red Beard-orchid Calochilus paludosus, a first for many of the field-trippers. The last treat was the discovery of a bright pink Tiny Fingers orchid, Caladenia pusilla growing amidst a Common Raspwort Gonocarpus tetragynus as we walked back to the top of the hill.

At the end of the excursion Rod Lowther, Geelong FNC president thanked Emily for leading an interesting excursion and showing the group a diverse range of spring flowering plants. This was the third inter-club visit between Geelong and Ballarat, with the Geelong club already considering options for one next year, a great initiative that increases the range of habitats we can visit and provides the added benefit of local knowledge.

Report by John Gregurke and Emily Noble

Plant list FNCB Enfield field trip Nov 2018

 

Union Jack Reserve Buninyong

On our club’s recent visit to this reserve the weather was rather cold and bleak so I took the opportunity recently to have another quick look.

The Union Jack Education Area is accessed at the end of Elizabeth Street, East of Warrenheip St, Buninyong, and from Wirreanda Drive off Yankee Flat Rd. The reserve is managed by Parks Victoria and the vegetation is heathy dry forest. In winter there the flowers of common heath provide glimpses of colour. There is lots of moss and lichen, occasional fungi and the leaves of orchids beginning to emerge. Many small birds may be seen flying in and out of the bracken. Continue reading

Flora and fauna records matter

Bushy Clubmoss

It is sometimes handy for Field Naturalists and others who are interested in the natural environment to have a list of plants and animals for a place they are visiting.  Such lists are also useful for ecologists and students who are working on projects in particular areas as it gives them a heads up on what to expect or look for when they are surveying an area. Continue reading

A silent killer

 

Sunshine highlighting a grass tree

Grass trees are one of the most recognised victims of the silent killer Phytophthora cinnamomi, but other plants are also impacted. A recent talk highlighted the problem of how to prevent the spread to other areas of bushland.

Here are some brief notes about Phytophthora cinnamomi (P c.) from a presentation by David Smith, from the Dept. of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources to the Friends of Canadian Corridor at the Earth Ed Centre, Mt Helen.

Often referred as being a fungus it is now classified in the Order Oomycota and therefore closely related to slime moulds. There are currently at least 124 species of Phytophthora in the world, with the number rising each year. Some species only occur on the foliage of plants while others such as P c. only occur in the soil. Continue reading

Marine excursion plans for March

Get out your reference books and beach gear, we are going to the beach. On Saturday 24 March, Ballarat Field Naturalists are going to near Torquay, to meet up with the marine research group of the Victorian Field Naturalists” Club, to look at what lives in and on rock platforms. It will be an early start as we are leaving from our usual rendezvous point at 7:15am.

a selection of useful marine reference books

Members  interested in participating should contact Andy so that he knows who is coming and to let you know if the plan changes. You will need to have good footwear like gym boots or canvas shoes so that you can walk on the slippery surface, taking a camera and a notebook is also a good idea plus a plastic container to carry finds to the experts for identification..

Each year we usually try to have an excursion down to the coast and this is one of the many different activities that we undertake as a club. If you were thinking about joining our group this would be an ideal time to do it, as it is the beginning of the financial year. Membership includes insurance for club activities meetings, excursions and a newsletter. We publish a list of our activities for the coming year on our website and it will be updated soon. For further info about membership or the excursion, email our secretary Emily at ballaratfnc@gmail.com

 

Field Reports

At each club meeting, members give reports of interesting sightings that they’ve had over the previous month. At our recent meeting, Carol spoke about the sighting for the magpie geese at Lake Wendouree. See previous post for a photo.

Apparently this is the first sighting since the 1890’s and while reports indicate that there were 12 goslings, the number decreased over subsequent days. There was discussion as to whether this might be due to the rakali (native water rat) having a snack or a swamp harrier.

Another field report of note was the finding of a feathertail glider at Scarsdale by Bill. These tiny animals are the smallest of our possums that glide. While still relatively common they not often seen and this one was dead, so provided an opportunity for detailed examination. They are active at night and eat insects, nectar, honeydew and pollen and rely on tree hollows for nest sites.

Recognising and valuing contributions to our club

At our annual general meeting on Friday night our club president John Gregurke, awarded a life membership to Bill Murphy. The club in its 65th year has only awarded 10 life memberships and the last one was many years ago  to Mary White.

Bill Murphy with his award

Bill has been a member for 50 years and this in itself a marvelous achievement. He and his wife Pat, joined the club not long after attending their first meeting in 1968. They were invited to attend a meeting by Stella Bedggood, who thought they might be interested in coming along to hear the guest speaker, who turned out to be none other than Jim Willis.

From that time on they were hooked and actively participated in many of the club functions including field trips, campouts and working bees. Bill was president of the club in 1972, 73 and 75 and when he retired from work in the late 1980’s he was able to join Pat on many forays into the bush. Continue reading

Magpie Geese at Lake Wendouree

This photo of Magpie Geese with goslings was captured by one of our members, Carol. According to Roger Thomas this sighting is an historic one for the lake

Magpie Geese and young Wendouree-2.jpg

Hyacinth Orchids

There were still a few Hyacinth Orchids out at in the Enfield Forest on Tuesday, but not much else flowering. These orchids are tall up to 90-100cm with numerous pink flowers on a stem and are usually leafless. Dipodium pardalinum, Spotted Hyacinth Orchid, has spots on the sepals and labellum and Dipodium roseum, Rosy Hyacinth Orchid has spots but a striped labellum. Thanks to Emily for the identification tip.